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Gaw Capital sets sights on $500m US fund debut

The Hong Kong-based private equity real estate firm has confirmed the signing of New Jersey Division of Investment director Tim Walsh and the creation of a US platform leading to the launch of its first investment fund for the country.

Gaw Capital Partners, one of China’s largest private equity real estate firms with approximately $6.6 billion of assets under management, has confirmed the hire of Tim Walsh from the New Jersey Division of Investment (NJ DOI), the launch of another US investment management platform and its first opportunistic real estate fund targeting US assets.

In an announcement today, the Hong Kong-based firm said it has formed an entity called Gaw Capital US to manage new real estate funds and to provide investment advisory services to Gaw Capital’s existing US real estate investment management business, Downtown Properties. The firm, which is in the final throes of raising more than $1 billion for the latest in its series of China-focused Gateway Real Estate opportunity funds, said Gaw Capital US would seek to raise its first fund in the fourth quarter of this year, targeting between $300 million and $500 million. 

Similar to Gaw Capital’s strategy in China, the US fund is expected to facilitate investments in properties that can be repositioned or redeveloped. The initial focus will be on office and hospitality properties in urban locations, property types with which the Downtown Properties team of approximately 25 staff have experience.

Gaw Capital is hoping that Walsh, who had a reputation at NJ DOI for influencing other US pensions to imitate his investing strategies, will have a similar impact as a principal investor and will supplement the firm’s existing relationships with investors in Asia. Goodwin Gaw, chairman and managing principal of Gaw Capital, said: “Timothy has deep experience, a proven track record and the respect of his investment industry peers and will help us lead our US operations into the future.” Walsh will serve as president and COO of Gaw Capital US.

Although Gaw is introducing a new platform in Gaw Capital US, the firm’s connection to US real estate dates back to 1991. Indeed, San Francisco-born Gaw begin real estate investing with Downtown Properties, making his first investment in the famous Roosvelt Hotel in Los Angeles. Today, Downtown manages approximately $1.5 billion of assets on behalf of a club fund and various separate accounts. Gaw Capital US also will be expected to raise and service separate accounts as well as funds.

“While the firm is already widely-respected for its successful operations in China and the Asia region, the new team that I will be leading at Gaw Capital US will specifically direct its resources on growth in the US market,” Walsh said. “While Gaw Capital has experience in US real estate through Downtown Properties, this new entity will provide an even stronger and clearer platform for growth in the US.”